Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wellington trams, cable cars, trolleys and harbour

Andrew from High Riser sent through some scans of old photos of Wellington originally scanned and posted on Trams Down Under by Dave Menzies who collected them up originally as slides while in Melbourne. Andrew emailed Mr Menzies asking for permission for them to be reposted here, and Mr Menzies has very generously said yes.

Now, as I'm not a Wellingtonian, I'm not the best judge at all of what parts of that city these photos feature. So -- I've added in some information as provided by those responding on the Trams Down Under board, but would really appreciate readers chipping in with ideas/info as well.

Update 31 December 2010 -- my friend Graeme has supplied location details on most of the images, based on his knoiwledge of Wellington. Cheers, Graeme! His notes in blue.

Update 24 January 2011 -- Andrew has contacted Keith McGavin of the Wellington Tramway Museum, who has very kindly provided additional information and corrections -- and noting the duplicates! His information is in bold. 

Update 25 January 2011 -- Keith has now asked fellow tram enthusiasts to chime in with corrections and aditional info. As they come in, I'll update the text -- and add names of contributors to the bottom.

1 A southbound tram in Willis Street between mercer and Manners Streets. Hataitai bound “Fiducia” tram No.257 (now preserved at the Museum of Transport & Technology, Auckland). The Hataitai tram route closed on 5th November 1962.

2. Willis St. at corner of Mercer St. Photograph taken in March or April 1964 - as the “Methyl Benzine” Shell Company advertising and specially painted tram was only in place for the two months before the final tram on 2nd May 1964.

3  John Street, Newtown? Graeme confirmed this.
John Street, Newtown. Double Saloon trams Nos. 191 and 199 on a special tour, 4th November 1961, the trams are opposite the then Winter Show Buildings, turning from John Street into Wallace Street. The trams were chartered by the Tramway Preservation Association for the afternoon and traversed practically all the remaining tramway tracks in Wellington.

4 Johnson Street/Customhouse Quay.

 Same tram tour as No.3. In Customhouse Quay and about to turn into Johnston Street.

5 Hataitai terminus, Waitoa Road – same tram tour as Nos. 3 and 4

 6 An Island Bay bound “Fiducia” class tram in Luxford Street, Berhampore. The Island Bay tram route close in May 1963.

7 Courtenay Place. A Railway Station bound double saloon tram. This portion of tram line closed when the Island Bay route closed in May 1963. (I suspect I (Keith McGavin) may have taken this slide but I haven’t confirmed this – it looks the same as one of mine.)

8 Lambton Quay
Lambton Quay (opposite Kirkaldie & Stains). A route 3 double saloon class tram – probably ex Lyall Bay – bound for the Railway Station. Route 3 closed in 1960.

9 Shunting in Mulgrave Street, adjacent to Wellington Railway station. Fiducia type tram. The street on the far left disappearing into the distance is Lambton Quay. Mulgrave Street (and Aitken Street further to the right) was used for shunting and parking spare trams in between peak times. The approximate date could be identified by finding out what year (probably late 1950s) Billy Graham was at Athletic Park on April 5th and 6th (advert on side of tram)

10 Onepu Road, opposite the Kilbirnie tram depot and workshops.  Double-saloon type tram.

11 Thorndon Quay
Thorndon Quay near the Railway Station (Fiducia tram) with the Double Saloon tram (right) shunting in Mulgrave Street

12 At the east portal of the Hataitai tram tunnel Same tour as Nos. 3,4 & 5

13 Going from Upper Cuba Street to Lower Cuba Street (James Smith Corner – Royal Oak Hotel opposite).  Same tram tour as Nos. 3, 4, 5, and 12.  Double Saloon tram No.191

14  Kent Terrace near Courtenay Place.  This is an earlier photo – probably 1950’s as the tram on the left is an older type with an earlier type of trolley pole (known as a “high-standard”).  The tram on the right is parked in a siding near Courtenay Place which was used for tram storage during the off peak hours.  This siding had a unique (for Wellington) type of point lever, embedded in the footpath, and this is still there as one of the very few items identifiable with the trams that remains in Wellington.

15 Outside Wellington Railway Station
Outside Wellington Railway Station (turning from Lambton Quay into Mulgrave Street).  Same tram tour as Nos. 3, 4, 5, 12 and 13.   Clearly shows the interesting track layout here, with the double right-angle crossover clearly visible.  This location was used for shunting and reversing trams at the Railway Station.

16  Hataitai (Waitoa Road terminus)  (A companion to No. 5)  Same tram tour as Nos. 3, 4, 5, 12, 13 and 15.   The normal service Hataitai tram (a “Fiducia” class) has arrived and is waiting for trams 191 and 199 to clear the terminus. 

17.  Courtenay Place.  Same tram tour as Nos. 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 15, and 16.  The two double saloon type trams Nos. 191 and 199 on their way to Hataitai (note both route 2 which was Hataitai) – taken prior to Nos. 5 and 16. In the foreground are the remains of the junction line to Oriental Bay.

18 Newtown Zoo turnaround
Newtown Zoo terminus loop – Same tram tour as before

19.  Aitken Street – near the Railway Station, normally used for parking trams in non-peak periods.  Same tram tour as before.

20 Newtown
Newtown – Riddiford Street and about to head along Rintoul Street to collect patrons from an Athletic Park rugby match.  Double saloon type tram No.227.  Note the position of the trolley pole – the tram has come from Newtown tram depot located further along Riddiford Street and is about to move away from the camera, across a crossover to take it on to the left hand tracks, and then through a double crossover which will take it up Rintoul Street towards Athletic Park and Island Bay.  Probably taken in April 1963 just prior to the route’s closure.

21 Seatoun tunnel, eastern portal – an early slide as the Seatoun tram route closed in 1958.  Fiducia type tram.

22 Lambton Quay
Johnston Street, turning into Lambton Quay.  Same tram tour as described earlier.  Johnston Street was normally utilised in peak hours only as a northern terminus that allowed trams for southern and eastern suburbs to avoid congestion at the railway station.

23 Lower Cuba Street before the Michael Fowler Centre was built over where the street was – Town Hall on the right.  Same tram tour as described earlier.

24.    Lambton Quay, turning into Hunter Street.  Same tram tour as before.   Note the “false” destination of Miramar Jn. (route 10) which closed in the 1950’s.  Hunter Street was used by suburbs bound “express” trams that, after picking up passengers along Lambton Quay, would use Hunter Street to cross to Jervois Quay for a fast trip to Courtenay Place avoiding Willis Street and Manners Street.  Route 10 was the correct designation for trams using Hunter Street.

25.    Kent Terrace near Courtenay Place – in the siding as described in No.14.  Same tram tour as described earlier.

26.    Cable Car (Grip car and trailer).  The trailers were withdrawn in 1974 and the grip cars in 1978.  These are pictured at the upper terminus (not Lambton Quay).

27.    Karori tunnel – [Northland tunnel different profile, Seatoun on a gradient]

28. View of Lambton Harbour from Mt. Victoria area, 1970s (new Post Office building is dominant).

Note (from Keith McGavin): Photos Nos. 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 24, 25 and 26 are all feature a chartered tram tour organised by the Tramway Preservation Association and run on 4th November 1961 over practically all the then remaining tram routes and lines in Wellington. The Tramway Preservation Association was the forerunner of today’s Wellington Tramway Museum Inc. which owns and operates the historic tramway at Queen Elizabeth Park, MacKay’s Crossing on the Kapiti Coast.

Additional information from: Russell Jenkin, Mike Mellor


  1. Woot!
    Love the images :)

    Fab post on the cemetery, too, bit surprised the footpath goes over an actual grave though!

  2. Cheers, Jayne. Yep -- that footpath is not something I'd like to walk on.

  3. Fabulous photos! Just loved this. Like the eyes on the tram.

  4. Billy Graham was in NZ in 1959 - Athletic Park crowd was almost all entirely converted. Not me but one of my classmates went hoopla over it all.
    Hey, great shots of the trams, did you go to see Thorndon to Island Bay, a silent film at the Archive?

  5. Fantastic photos of Wellington through the years. Cubacade which is what I'm sure it was originally called when it was sealed off by that Waterbucket monstrousity when it was first unveiled late 69/70 thereabouts. Every shot is a wonder

  6. This is really spectacular, and I appreciate what was public transportation here until 1964 - also the date that street cars ended in LA. I'm hoping the light rail returns to Wellington soon, and in the meantime I'm rallying people to resist the planned flyover at the Basin Reserve!

  7. Wonderful old photos - I loved the trams. So quick to get on and off

  8. Hi there,

    Currently working towards recreating the city as it was in 1940 as a digital experience and was wondering where the photos came from? especially the one of 5,7 and 9 Courtenay place!

    1. It says where they're from right at the beginning of the post.